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When the Marvel NOW! titles were starting to get announced, there was one in particular that stood out as the one I most wanted to read: Thunderbolts. Typically the Thunderbolts are a ragtag group of lower-tier villains turned anti-heroes in the Marvel universe, but now Marvel has transformed the team into a super group of all-star killers. The Punisher, Deadpool, Venom, Elektra, and General Thunderbolt 'Red Hulk' Ross make up the roster of what is easily the most exciting lineup for a Marvel team in years.
Daniel Way of Deadpool fame writes this new series and he presents it in a way that new and old readers can enjoy. Old readers will see the influence of all these characters' pasts in the first issue and new readers will get a good sense of what each of them is really like (should they be unfamiliar with them). After living in the world of the Merc with a Mouth for so long, it's refreshing to see Way stretch his legs and work with other characters. Writing a character that has multiple voices in his head really helped, because the individual characters all feel like their own considering Way has found each of their 'voice.'
This first issue does what many debuts do now and simply sets the stage for what is to come. By the end it's got a perfect cast of characters ready to go, but no real target in sight of where they're going. I trust Way knows what he's doing because he made this 'Getting to know you' issue a fun read with great character moments, but it would be nice to know what Ross plans on doing with this team of rejects.
You probably know going into this new series if you like Steve Dillon's artwork or not. He's a very 'love it or hate it' kind of artist and I find myself in the 'love it' camp. While a lot of what you'll see here echoes his work on Punisher MAX, it's still good comic book art. What really brings this work out though are the colors, provided by Guru eFX. I've never read a comic by Dillon where the picture popped as much as this one and it really helps the tone of it. Each character has their own 'section' in this debut and each one feels like their own comic and not a Punisher comic starring Deadpool. It will be interesting to see how they handle the tone of the team when they're all in the same room together.
Thunderbolts is a solid debut issue. The writing is very good, but the direction of the story isn't there, so it might lose only half-interested readers quickly. Dillon's art has never looked better, but that's because the colorist does a lot of the heavy lifting. If you like any of the characters on this team, this is almost a must read.
Rating: 8 / 10
Head over to Page 2 for our review of Avengers #1